Posted October 13, 2014

FRIDAY, Oct. 10, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Parents’ lack of knowledge about concussion may hinder youngsters’ treatment and recovery, two new studies suggest.

One study included a survey of 511 parents of children aged 5 to 18 who suffered a head injury. Only about half of the parents knew that a concussion was a brain injury that could cause symptoms such as headache or difficulty concentrating.

Ninety-two percent knew that they should stop their child from playing sports and see a doctor if they suspected their youngster had a concussion, but only 26 percent knew about guidelines on when their child could resume sports and school work.

The findings were to presented Friday at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) annual meeting, in San Diego.

“Our study showed that the vast majority of parents knew what to do if they suspected a concussion in their child, and in most cases understood the clinical importance of this injury as a brain injury,” study author Dr. Kirstin Weerdenburg, a pediatric emergency medicine fellow at Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, said in an AAP news release.

“The study also highlights that a physician visit shortly after the injury is important to confirm the diagnosis for parents, and to inform parents of return to play/learn guidelines to ensure a proper recovery and prevent a second concussion while the brain is still healing,” she added.

In the second study to be presented at the same meeting — researchers assessed concussion knowledge among 214 parents of children being evaluated for musculoskeletal or head injuries (group 1), and 250 parents of students at a private school (group 2).

The majority of parents in both groups did well overall on the survey, but there were some widespread misconceptions about concussion. For example, about 70 percent in group 1 and 49 percent in group 2 mistakenly believed that CT and MRI brain scans can be used to diagnose concussion.

Reduced breathing rate was incorrectly identified as a concussion symptom by 25 percent of those in group 1 and 29 percent of those in group 2, and difficulty speaking was incorrectly identified as a concussion symptom by 75 percent and 79 percent, respectively.

“Our study highlights the fact that many parents are still in need of education regarding concussion identification and post-injury evaluation. Even those highly educated parents were prone to misconceptions,” study senior author Dr. Tracy Zaslow, medical director of the sports medicine and concussion program at Children’s Orthopaedic Center, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, said in the news release.

“False perceptions such as the ones pinpointed by our study may impact when medical care is sought after concussion and lead to less than optimal home care,” Zaslow added.

Research presented at medical meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

Each year, nearly 175,000 children are treated in U.S. emergency rooms for sports-related concussions, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

— Robert Preidt

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